Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 3
world,8 and its weak control mechanisms allow some countries to provide ‘lip service to children
rights simply to be granted recognition as a modern developed state’.9
Juvenile Justice: Then And Now
The origins of the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) and the justice/welfare debate can be traced
back to pre-independence (1922), British legislation and institutional developments relating to
children.10 Though the legal landscape began to move prospectively in many respects, the Irish
juvenile justice system remained in place and did not move from its nineteenth-century regime
until the twenty-first century. There was some reform in 1924, which changed practice and
procedure rather than principle,11 but the majority of children continued to be detained in
industrial schools, most of which were run by Catholic religious organisations. 12 Policy
developments where thin on the ground,13 but there was also a considerable lack of Irish
research on child care and juvenile justice.14
The Children Act 2001 (‘2001 Act’) replaced the Children Act 1908 Act (‘1908 Act’) regarding
juvenile justice and was signed into law in July 2001, though not fully implemented until July
2007.15 The 2001 Act marked a significant step and explicitly provided for a system to deal with
children in conflict with the law that was separate and distinct from the system for adult
offenders. Notwithstanding this development, Ireland does not yet have a wholly separate
Children Court, though the District Court doubles as a Children Court for summary and most
indictable offences.16 Except for Dublin City, children in 2019 are still accommodated in adult
courts in Ireland; however, the Children Court must sit at different rooms or buildings and at
different times than the ordinary District Court. 17 The physical environment, layout, and
structure of the courtroom can have a significant impact on the extent to which young people
can participate in proceedings.18
The ethos of treating children separately to adults and the importance of the in camera rule is
reflected in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Administration of Juvenile
and the European Court of Human
8 Barry Goldson and John Muncie (eds), Youth Crime & Justice (2nd edn, SAGE 2015) 260.
9 Maria José Bernuz Beneitez and Elizabeth Dumortier, 'Why Children Obey the Law: Rethinking Juvenile Justice and Children’s
Rights in Europe through Procedural Justice' (2018) 18(1) Youth Justice 34, 37.
10 Una Convery and Mairead Seymour, 'Children, crime, and justice' in Deirdre Healy, et al (eds), The Routledge handbook of Irish
criminology (Routledge 2016).
11 FSL Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine (Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1971).
12 Paul Sargent, Wild Arabs and savages: A history of juvenile justice in Ireland (Manchester University Press 2013). The Children Act
2001 was preceded by a number of detailed Reports (including the Henchy Report - Interdepartmental Committee on Mentally
Ill and Maladjusted Persons, Third Interim Report: Treatment and care of persons suffering from mental disorder who appear before the courts on
criminal charges (Prl 8275, 1978) and the Whitaker Report - Committee of Inquiry into the Penal System, Report of the Committee of
Inquiry into the penal system (1985) but Polic y developments where thin on the ground and there was a considerable lack of Irish
research on child care and juvenile justice.
14 Committee on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Reformatory and industrial school’s system Report 1970 (Prl 1342, 1970) (Kennedy
Report); Dermot Walsh, Juvenile Justice (1st edn, Thomas Round Hall 2005); Ursula Kilkelly, Youth justice in Ireland: Tough lives, rough
justice (Irish Academic Press 2006).
15 There was a general Commencement of the whole Act on 23rd July 2007, which was commenced by Children Act 2001
(Commencement) (No. 3) Order 2007, SI 2007/524.
16 Dermot Walsh, Criminal Procedure (2nd edn, Round Hall 2016).
17 Children Act 2001, s 71.
18 Ursula Kilkelly, Youth justice in Ireland: Tough lives, rough justice (Irish Academic Press 2006); T and V v United Kingdom App no
24724/94 (ECtHR, 16 December 1999).
19 UNGA United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice UN A/RES/40/33 (1985).
20 UNCRC (n 6) – in 2007, the Committee on the Rights of the Child published General Comment 10 on Children’s rights in